Fulbright Student Program Blog

Tag Archives: Creative and Performing Arts

Melding Art & Science Draws Fulbrighter into Community of Kindred Spirits

janet-rafner

Janet Rafner, 2015-2016, Denmark (center) with fellow Fulbright U.S. Student Natalie Hoidal (left) and Truman Fellow Jordan Went (right) attending Janet Rafner’s ‘Call Me Quantum’ Exhibition featured during Copenhagen’s Culture Night at the Niels Bohr Institute. Traversing through the exhibit, one experiences a range of phenomena such as the atomic orbitals, tunnel effect, wave particle duality and superconductivity from orthogonal perspectives. Layers of design, graphics, and illustrations unveil the scientific process, revealing the compelling and elegant physics that inspired the work. This exhibit displays contents created by the Physics Reimagined group at the University Paris Sud and The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France. Design in collaboration with the students from the design school ENSCI-Les Ateliers and Ecole Estienne. (Photo Credit: Professor Robert Feidenhans’l)

While on my Fulbright grant in Interdisciplinary Studies in Denmark, I have been so fortunate to interact with passionate, dedicated like-minded people and kindred spirits across many disciplines. From creative designers and game developers to physicists, computer programmers, cognitive scientists and public outreach experts, these individuals form a unique community dedicated to enhancing science and mathematics comprehension and research outcomes. As a rule, they are intensely curious, willing to take risks and experiment, and passionate about collaborating, even when the project is only tangentially related to their core research. The result is a continuous flow of inspirational energy and a sense that anything might be possible if the right group of people come together.

In this environment where progress often comes from discovering and following unconventional paths, having great mentors has also been crucial to my Fulbright work. The process has allowed me to excel while contributing to diverse scientific and outreach projects, tapping into my own motivations and talents, and building new collaboration skills. The projects have helped me better understand how to bring the concepts of complex physics into the vernacular as well as make them accessible to a wider range of researchers. Professors Rikke Schmidt Kjærgaard and Jacob Sherson, my sponsors and mentors at Aarhus University have made these projects possible – I couldn’t ask for a more supportive faculty. In coming years, I look forward to both being a mentor and having new mentors so I can continue to explore how technical tools and artistic creativity can be used to express complex concepts in science, and to share her findings internationally.

Program Update: New Fulbright U.S. Student Grant to Australia!

Australia_08 - Abigail Sebaly

Photo courtesy of Abigail V. Sebaly, 2008-2009, Australia

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is now offering a grant to Australia in the Creative & Performing Arts (all fields), Environment Studies and Public Health.

This award is sponsored by Western Sydney University (WSU) and will enable exceptional students from the United States to undertake research of importance to the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Australia.

To learn more about this grant and other Fulbright U.S. Student grant opportunities to Australia, please visit the Australia country summary.

 

Art and Understanding

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Alex Anderson, 2014-2015, China, working on one of his ceramic sculptures in the studio

During my Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant, I spent 10-months at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where I studied ink painting and was an artist-in-residence in the ceramics department. Considering art as a reflection of the interior world of its maker, it allowed for a clear and genuine lens into the specific interests, psychologies, and motivations of the people in my studio during this period. Prior to my time in China, I had not considered art as a tool for cultural exchange, but the questions that sourced from discussions of each person’s work often moved from the work itself to considerations of its place in contemporary art in China, America, and beyond.

People seemed to view my work and me as equally viable specimens for inspection of what it means to be an American and what American art looks like. There was an interest in the way work was rendered, comments surrounding its content, and discussions of its aesthetic that ultimately led to dialogues about what it means to be an American and the fact that there is no universal definition, as America is an immigrant, hybrid nation. In this respect, art became my primary means of creating mutual understanding and serving as a cultural ambassador. The first question people would ask when they walked through the studio was, “Who made this?” followed by “Where is he from?” These questions opened up spaces for further dialogue around the intersection of Chinese and American art, and sometimes led to discussions of the intersection of China and America.

Ni de Aquí Ni de Allá (“Not From Here or There”)

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Carmen Román, 2015-2016, Peru, sitting in front of the chapel at Hacienda Arona in Cañete

Friday night I was invited to the U.S. Embassy in Lima for a live viewing of the soccer match between the United States and Peru. I was expecting a small gathering but as I walked up to the Embassy, I noticed a long line outside. I asked the guy at the end of the line what the line was for, and he responded: “To view the soccer match!” I lined up behind him. He turned around and said, “You need an invitation.” I assured that him I had one.

Apparently, 180 people had been invited, including the national press and local students learning English. As I passed through security, I could hear the vibrant sounds of the Batucada playing in the background and of course, I did a little samba–– an upbeat dance of Brazilian origin performed during Carnival parades.

As I walked in, I felt like a queen. This was the place were my parents had come more than twenty-five years ago to ask for a Visa to purse their American dream. I remember hearing about bank statements and other paperwork they had to bring; I imagined my dad sitting, nervously awaiting his turn. And now, here I am more than two decades later, walking the same grounds as an American, invited to this private event.

Dance to Love

Minh Tuyet Bui

Minh Tuyet Bui, 2013-2015, Vietnam (center), performs her dance “Dreamer’s Café” with Heidi Stonier and Bryan Wilson at the Center for Modern Dance Education, New Jersey.

My dance/movement journey started in 2010 when I read the book Dance as a Healing Art by Anna Halprin. To this day, I am grateful for her spirit and wisdom. It empowered me to cross the ocean on a Fulbright grant to become a Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) student in the United States at Sarah Lawrence College.

After 10 years of experience in education, I have observed that the teaching methods currently in use in Vietnam cause students to suffer. Students are rarely encouraged to observe, ask questions or think critically in order to make their own decisions. In an ideal environment, students must learn inner leadership, personal responsibility, and self-discovery. They should add value to the world by playing a part in it. In this respect, traditional education is failing.

By experiencing my own body through movement and applying this experience in teaching, I see how creative movement empowers students to develop personality and strengthen their inner leadership. In one of my classes, “Movement with Nature,” I guided children to make physical contact and engage all the senses with a tree. Students pay attention to feelings, emotions and images stimulated by their contact with the tree, then are asked to dance with the tree and find their relationship to it. The tree is in you and you are in the tree. After that, they draw the tree and write about their experience. Children identify with nature by projecting themselves into the form of a tree through movement. From this process, they can obtain rich insights and meaningful connections to their life needs. One shy girl shared, “My tree is scared to sleep alone.” Another said, “My tree doesn’t like being hit.” Another child saw the trees as endless, a home that offered strength and safety. “I am here if you need help” her tree said.